Blue Devils Stop Pack, 81-68

Different setting, same result. Against one of their biggest rivals the NC State Wolfpack once again collapsed down the stretch. With the game tied at 65 with just over five minutes remaining, Duke took over with a 16-3 run behind the clutch play of its two All-Americans to improve to 17-0 on the season and take a firm grasp on the ACC regular season title chase.

J.J. Redick scored 28 points, while Shelden Williams added 21 points and nine rebounds, four blocks, and five steals, to lead the Blue Devils to their sixth straight victory over a top 25 opponent.

Like the previous half dozen victories over ranked teams, this one didn't come easy as the Wolfpack got a career night from Cedric Simmons, who tallied a career best 28 points along with nine rebounds and seven blocks.

For a while it seemed as though Simmons' career night would result in State pulling the upset, but once again Duke was bailed out by senior Sean Dockery. On this night Dockery didn't wait until the final buzzer to deliver the dagger to his opponent. Instead he knocked down a go-ahead jumper from the right corner that started a six point possession for the Blue Devils and effectively knocked the Wolfpack to the ropes.

With the score tied at 65, Dockery drained a three point jumper from the wing and was fouled by Tony Bethel. Though he missed the subsequent free throw, Dockery would come up with the loose ball rebound and find Lee Melchionni, who knocked down another three to extend the lead to 71-65.

The pair of jumpers began the 16-3 spurt that would push the final margin to 13, in a game that was much closer than that. The two teams, who were picked first and third in the preseason media poll, were tied nine times and exchanged the lead 16 times.

The key to the victory for Duke was limiting the NC State perimeter attack to just 2-of-11 on the night, when the Wolfpack had knocked down an average of 10.5 three pointers per game.

Dockery finished with 10 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Melchionni added 12 points and five rebounds. Redick added a team high six assists.


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